Well, let's see here. The last couple of days were interesting as I happened to have invited the very first online troll (sorry Herbert, but you are a troll, aren't you?) to my blog, specifically, to the post HOW TO WRITE A BAD BOOK, whose glorious comments you may read at your leisure. As a side note, traffic to my site doubled since the troll's comment, so thank you dear troll, err, pardon, Herbert, I love you. How does this relate to write's confidence? Oh, big time. Because I'm a writer and I hardly have any confidence, having been beaten up in my childhood and told I suck and abused and some other not so pretty shit, so although I survived and fled my home country of Russia to US, and even started writing in English, which is not my first language (my therapist said it opened some other part of my brain or something), anyway... getting lost here... what I wanted to say was, I'm so unsure of myself that I end up hurting myself, and upsetting my readers. I tell them my books suck, and they yell at me that they don't, that they love them, and I want to hide. It's a horrible horrible thing. I'm getting a little better, but still have a long way to go. So I was very worried to have upset this man-troll (or troll-man? My apologies, Herbert) with my post, because, those of you who know me, know that I'm pathologically incapable of being serious. I'm serious only when I'm in pain, and I'm not much in pain anymore. I'm happy, so most of the time I'm being sarcastic, which annoys people a lot, as I happen to deliver it with a straight face. Such was the case with this, and I realize I need to learn very quickly to believe in myself, in my writing, in my ability to stay true to myself no matter what anyone tells me. I'm a writer, my books will be read, wait, THEY ARE BEING ALREADY READ! I need to get used to opinions. How to do it? Let me try to break it down into steps.
Get rid of the fear, fear makes you into someone else. To truly believe in yourself you have to be yourself. But if you're afraid to be yourself, you try to be someone else. You see some shiny author doing some shiny thing, and you're like, hey, I'll do this too! You try it, it doesn't quite work, you see another shiny thing, and so the cycle continues. Each time you try something new, it doesn't work. You try to understand why, and the only thing that makes sense is to try something new again. So you do. You chase yet another shiny thing. Eventually you find yourself depressed and want to give up. I know because I've been there myself. I tried copying other writer's styles, and then concluded that I suck so bad, I need to quit. How did I climb out of it? This is one of those impossible tasks that I struggle with every day and have been able to conquer only for hours at a time by sheer will, sheer amount of writing and with my boyfriend's encouragement, who every day is beating into my head that I don't suck, that I'm good, that I'm very good. I even wrote a post on HOW TO BECOME A WRITER: LET SOMEONE LOVE YOU. Anyway, to be able to be yourself you have to get rid of this fear of being yourself, and for that you need to learn how to relax. Which brings me to...
It's only when you're completely in the zone that you produce your best work. Your biggest lack of confidence comes from your own dissatisfaction in your writing. You read it and you think it's utter shit. You're disgusted by it, especially after reading something genius. How is it possible to begin thinking you can start writing again? What's the point? You want to give up. And you're wound up, you're really really tight. Yet there are these moments when you get in the zone, when you forget about your doubts and writing is just happening on its own. You feel completely relaxed, nothing bothers you. How do you get to this state? People have different means, some use booze, some take walks, some use stronger means, some stand on their head, some shoot flamingo zombies. No matter what your method is, I can suggest you another one that doesn't involve any stimulants, but will kill two birds with one stone. Write every day, A LOT. Block out as much time as you can, at least 1 hour uninterrupted time (preferably 4), and stick to it. Write every day in that timeframe until you build a habit. It doesn't matter what you write about. If you have writer's block, write about how it sucks having writer's block, complain all you want. I read somewhere that it takes 21 days to create a habit, and as long to break it. That's just 3 weeks, you have to endure only 3 weeks before it will start flowing. What will happen is, your body will get attuned to your daily writing time, and, BAM, suddenly you'll be able to catch that zone moment. The more of this you have, the more confident you'll get in your own ability, the more relaxed you'll feel, because your writing will start happening on its own.
Have someone in your camp who will always tell you your writing rocks. Let's be honest, it takes a village. You might think you're alone in this writing endeavor of yours, but you're not. You have family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, whoever. Some of them must know that you're writing. Find one person who either really loves you or your writing or both and is willing to praise you no matter what shit you write. Because when you start out, you're still learning, and how can you tell someone who is still learning that their skill sucks? You can't. Like my boyfriend told me several days ago, and I tweeted it because he is too shy when it comes to tweeting (I'm still trying to break his arm to do it), so I tweeted it, would you tell a baby that is learning to walk, hey, baby, your walking sucks? No. You encourage the baby, you hold baby's hands, you guide the baby, and you applause at every step. Same with writing. When you're learning, you need encouragement. I try to tweet at least several times a day something like YOU CAN WRITE THAT NOVEL I KNOW IT or some other stuff like that to hopefully encourage you, that is, if I'm myself am not in a bad place that day, which sometimes I am. If you don't have anyone in your life who could support you like this, you can still build confidence in your writing, but it will be much harder. If you want me to be your support, just shout, and I will ping you as often as I can, giving you love.
Finish your book no matter the cost. That is perhaps the most important confidence builder. Finish that book. You have to. Print it, I don't care where or how, but print it. Hold it in your hands. Take pictures of yourself holding your book in your hands. Blast it on all your social networks, glow in your friends' congratulations. Nothing gives you a boost like people cheering you on. All you have to do is finish that first book. After that it will be easier. It's still tough, but it's much much easier. I'm writing my fourth novel right now, ROSEHEAD, although since my first three books, SIREN SUICIDES, grew out of one book, you could consider it my second. I'm still struggling with confidence, but it's eons from where it was a year ago. I assume, I hope, one year from now I will feel better, and better, and more sure of myself, that is, if I'm still able to write full time, which is a whole another story as I'm running out of my savings in 3 months, and, well, I'll be fucked unless I do a successful Kickstarter project. Well, not to bother you with my personal pains here, please, please, please, make sure you finish writing what you started.
There are many more little ways for boosting your confidence as a writer. The one I really like is surrounding myself with great art, looking at awesome photographs, or paintings, or listen to awesome music. It seems to me if my fellow artists were able to produce beautiful art, I can produce beautiful art. Or, I save and read reviews of my books, the reviews that I really liked. I also open up one of my books at random and read a sentence or two. Out of context, it usually sounds good, and I think, wow, I can actually write? Did I really write this? And, well, my biggest confidence booster is my boyfriend who reads to me every night aloud what I wrote during the day, enacting the characters. And because ROSEHEAD is very different from SIREN SUICIDES, in that it's sarcastic, we both laugh a lot, and that laughter keeps me going the next day.